On 26 October Sebastiaan Scholte, CEO of Jan de Rijk Logistics, took the helm as the new chairman of TIACA. He shares with CargoForwarder Global his views on the facilitating role of the organisation for the improvement of the supply chain. In his new role as TIACA helmsman, the manager recommends rewarding shippers who agree to sharing data.
Two Benelux managers in the driving seat
With Dutch born and bred Sebastiaan the TIACA chairmanship has not only moved to Europe, but specifically to the Benelux, as Brussels Airport’s Steven Polmans has come in as vice-chairman. Sebastiaan admits that it is not common practice at TIACA to pick the candidates for the chair and the vice-chair from the same region, especially since the vice-chairman is supposed to take over in 2019.
“The latter is rather just an unwritten rule,” Sebastiaan says. He admits that it is quite handy to have Steven at close hand for face-to-face meetings. ”Selecting the Board is, however, also a matter of availability and the willingness of people to allocate the necessary time, because there are lots of things that need to be done.”
Sebastiaan has also brought an air cargo trucker to the chair, even if Jan de Rijk’s activities are rather comprehensive. ”We are the market leader for air cargo trucking in Europe and sometimes the consignments spend more time on board of the truck than in the aircraft.”
Besides, there is his more than 20 years of experience in the industry. Before he took over as CEO at JdR in 2010, he was from 1997 until 2001 Head of Worldwide Sales for Aeromexico. He then moved to Cargolux where he was responsible for the Latin American business from 2002 till 2005 and thereafter moved to their HQ for marketing and special projects till 2010.
Bonus scheme incentive
As for TIACA, he has set an impressive agenda, starting from the industry landscape. “We have been asked to look into that by the industry. We claim to represent the supply chain, but it is not good. For years there have been issues on time and visibility on the table. The shippers are confronted with many different players, all using their own information. We would like to support the stakeholders in sharing their data.”
The unwillingness to share this information is part of the ‘blame game’, Sebastiaan says. “The companies are afraid of being held accountable for the data. I think we should reward them for sharing. The technology of open source communication systems is there. It would be a very nice thing if TIACA could act as a facilitator for airport systems.”
Air cargo Trip Advisor
According to Sebastiaan the way forward is in the initiative to promote cargo service quality in the supply chain which TIACA has launched and which will allow the identification of gaps in the communication. “It would be fantastic if we could grow into the ‘Trip Advisor’ for the air cargo industry. It would allow the communities to improve themselves.”
Expanding globally by acting regionally
Setting up a logistics data backbone is another priority for TIACA, Sebastiaan thinks. The concept was discussed by the Shippers’ Advisory Committee of the organisation. “In the end it’s the shipper who pays for the entire air cargo supply chain. Improving the data leads to an improvement of efficiency, a reduction of errors and costs. We all benefit from a better system, based on predictive analysis and an evaluation of one’s own merits.” To further discuss the strategy forward a think tank has been set up consisting of 15 individuals, all actual or former TIACA members. They are supposed to report this January.
This is in no way to be a subsidised project, Sebastiaan likes to stress. “Subsidies have a decelerating effect. We are all in the business to make money, so let’s put that where our mouth is.”
Also at the to-do list is the concept of ‘expanding globally by acting more regionally’, which Sebastiaan would like to introduce especially in Africa and Latin-America. “We are talking with the AFRAA (African Airlines Association) and the ALACAT (Federation of National Associations of Cargo Agents and International Logistical
Operators of Latin America and the Caribbean). I think we may very well strengthen each other so that regional issues can grow into global issues.”
Waiting to be disrupted
As TIACA is the umbrella organization of the air cargo industry as a whole, it has to defend the interests of a wide range of actors whose agendas may not always be mutually compatible. To this Sebastiaan answers: “You have to concentrate on matters you can influence.” Geopolitical issues as well may appear to be a matter of concern, but according to Sebastiaan business pragmatism prevails.
E-commerce is another factor that has penetrated the air cargo machinery and may also be a force to reckon with. Sebastiaan: “Our industry is waiting to be disrupted. I believe in disruption and innovation. We already had the integrators, who have taken the entire process in one hand. But even then I am convinced there is a bright future for the airlines, as their combined network is so immense – and cheap - that it is impossible to claim that in 20 years’ time everything will be flown by integrators only.”
Sebastiaan thinks that the role of the freight forwarder is still very much underestimated. “He does a lot more than just booking capacity. The forwarder plays an important role in ‘unburdening’ the shipper.”
Rounding off, the new TIACA chairman thinks that the air cargo chain is not yet focused on innovation and information. He is, however, very hopeful in this respect. “We had a pilot event at AMS Schiphol Airport aimed at young executives in the industry. It would be tremendous to put this on a TIACA platform allowing them to look into each other’s kitchen. The Schiphol event was really an eye-opener in this respect.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels